LONDON • Louis van Gaal is determined to stop Leicester City from winning the Premier League title at Old Trafford today.
But the Manchester United manager expects that, even if his side stop the Foxes from celebrating today, the champagne will merely be on ice temporarily, with the Foxes' coronation as champions to come in the following few days.
The Red Devils need the points themselves, as they try to secure Champions League football for next season.
And so van Gaal would rather Leicester be reliant on second-placed Tottenham losing at Chelsea tomorrow, or beat Everton themselves next Saturday to guarantee their historic triumph.
"We have to beat (Leicester) because we are still in the race for fourth position," the Dutchman Gaal said on Friday.
"We cannot allow them to be champions this weekend. They shall be champions a week later. We don't spoil the party, only postpone it a little bit."
Leicester are 17 points ahead of United after a brilliant season, but van Gaal claimed the league leaders have had it "easy", having enjoyed advantages in player recruitment, fixture congestion and injuries.
"For a club like Leicester City it is much easier to buy players," said the United manager . "Also the pressure of the transfer of players is less and also the pressure on the players to perform is less. It is a big difference."
However, while Leicester have found success after spending just £20 million (S$39.2 million) last summer, Man United are still fighting for an automatic Champions League spot after paying out five times as much.
Van Gaal defended his record by saying "it is not so easy to buy players for a club like Manchester United (because) you have to pay much more" and claiming that United's poor season had been down to a lack of winners in his squad.
"The players we are now playing are not used to being champions," he said. "I don't think (Matteo) Darmian is used to it, (David) de Gea was never a champion.
"(Wayne) Rooney, (Michael) Carrick have been champions once, maybe more than once. You have to see the situation where the club is. We are in a transition period."
In fact United have 11 players in their squad who have won titles - and van Gaal was wrong about de Gea, as the Spaniard did win the Premier League with United in the 2012-13 season.
The Dutchman also attributed Leicester's success to winning the "lousy matches", saying: "I think every club has played lousy matches, Leicester City too. But they have won the lousy matches."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN